John James looks stoically at the camera

John James Santiago


      It was one of those (rare) Binghamton days where the sky is actually blue when I sat down with John James Santiago. Again, I found myself sitting cross-legged in the padded waiting-chairs in the main URC office chatting with a student about the Summer Scholars and Artists Program.

      John James, one of Binghamton’s SSAP artists, is a senior, majoring in Art History, minoring in Studio Art with a concentration in painting. I laughed and commended him on his dedication when he said he found out about the program through a B-Line email. “At the time, I wasn’t really looking for anything because I was taking an independent study for painting with one of my professors, [but] I looked [the program] up and I was like ‘Oh that’s perfect!’ Most of those things are very science-based so I saw “artist” in there and I was like ‘Alright, well I need to apply to that one.’ ”

       “Throughout my academic career in Binghamton, I have always been curious to test the theories and concepts I have learned in my Art History courses,” John James later elaborates. “For instance, in my Theories and Methods Class, I was fascinated by Art Historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s discourse relating to Greek Art. He emphasized the need to closely observe and study the art of the Ancient Greeks for the ideal form of beauty. With that, I wanted to apply the same concept but with the Impressionists Painters.”

       Although his project was largely based upon the readings in his class, he also visited several museums such as the MET, the MoMa, and the Whitney to study impressionist artwork. Beyond the research on the historical significance of these paintings, John James explains, “I also wanted to rely on my own instincts as a painter.”

       To immerse himself more in the world of impressionism, John James also visited the small town of Kennebunkport in Maine " It was really charming—I kind of imitated what the Impressionists did in the past. I also went to Portland, saw the ports and boats - it was really fun.”

Take a look at John James’ Artwork here!

 I wanted to emphasize the need to not only understand something through books, but also through my own experiences. I want to be an Art Historian, [so] through this project I wanted to understand a time period to effectively educate others about it.